Justin Wilson looks to make most of Indy rides with Andretti Autosport

1 Comment

Without a full-time ride for this season, Justin Wilson is happy to be back in a race car and to have a ride for at least the next two races.

The Great Britain native will compete in Saturday’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500, both for one of the premier teams in the sport, Andretti Autosport.

“It’s great to be back and great to be part of Andretti Autosport and looking forward to the month,” the 35-year-old Wilson said during a recent IndyCar press conference. “It’s been a long off-season, a lot of time thinking about getting back in the car and what it takes and how it’s all going to work.

“I’m just pleased to get it started, and so far it seems good. We just got to take it one step at a time. There’s a lot of work to be done, new body kits, everyone is trying to work them out and get a feel for them and go from there.”

Wilson spent the last three seasons with Dale Coyne Racing, finishing 5th in 2012 (including a win at Texas), 13th in 2013 and 11th in 2014 (no wins in either season but four podium finishes in 2013, and wound up fourth in the first of two races at Belle Isle last season).

Without a full-time ride for 2015, he’s hitting reset somewhat with the two races for Andretti Autosport.

“At first it’s a little strange because you’re with a new team and there’s a lot of changes obviously with the aero kits and all that that’s going on,” he said. “When you switch teams, it’s never easy that first couple of days and that first time in the car, especially when you’re trying to squeeze in the car and get the seat just right and the belts just right and the pedals and everything else.

“It’s just nice to get all that done, and then we can start planning ahead and trying to go quick now. So that was the main focus and, you know, just get settled in.”

Wilson will get his first test with his new team in Saturday’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, a warm-up for the Indy 500 just over two weeks later. He has seven career starts in the 500, with a career best of 5th in 2013 and 7th in 2012 and 2010. He finished 12th in last year’s race.

We’ll be focused on how to get the most out of the situation for that GP,” Wilson said. “It’s great. I get to do the GP first and get used to the team and the environment and work everything else out before we get into the rest of the month of May.

“So it’s good to be part of this team, this organization, being with all the drivers. Everyone is working well together … but I think it’s going to be a good month and hopefully whatever works out between the aero kits and Chevrolet and Honda, whatever happens, hopefully we can have a good month.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
Leave a comment

As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”